Book #79

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

The story is set circa 1790 in the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town, New York, in a secluded glen called Sleepy Hollow. It tells the story of Ichabod Crane, a lanky schoolmaster from Connecticut, who competes with Abraham "Brom Bones" Van Brunt, the town rowdy, for the hand of 18-year-old Katrina Van Tassel, only daughter of a wealthy farmer.

I snuggled down on a cold evening in mid-October to read this. Full of the chills of spooky month, I was ready for a short gothic tale of gloom and ghouls, something to give me some satisfactory terror in a dimly lit room. I was deeply disappointed.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is much more than a ghost story. In fact, it’s barely a ghost story at all. Irving depicts (in great detail) the community of Sleepy Hollow - its inhabitants, its surrounding nature, even its meals. All are intricately and wonderfully mapped, but with only around fifty pages in which to carve out these thorough presentations, the supernatural element is abandoned in favour of the small brook and the greenery around it.

What we have here, really, is a story of a love triangle, a feud between gentleman, a prank which makes Ichabod shit himself and flee. Although the writing is spectacular, there is nothing at all creepy here, which I expected and which I wanted. 

I’m aware it was purely my own expectations which wasted this for me, however when you see the words Headless Horseman, you don’t ever imagine you’re in for multitudes of (admittedly gorgeous) paragraphs on how the wind blows and how the trees settle.